Over the past several years, augmented reality (AR) has broken down traditional marketing barriers and created a new experiential marketing form. In 2020, we saw augmented reality used in the marketing of wine, beauty products,retail shopping,magazines, and grocery stores to name a few. This use of AR has revolutionized product engagement and customer experience for companies around the world. By implementing AR technologies, companies can reduce uncertainty in the decision-making process by allowing customers to visualize products through augmented reality to create an immersive experience for customers to interact with products. This reduces product return rates, boosts sales, and helps strengthen customer relationships with companies. If you would like to learn more about AR’s benefits in marketing and retail,click here.
During the trying times with COIVD-19, augmented reality has helped many companies step up their game and reduce the spread of the disease. In Korea, many cosmetics stores have integrated augmented reality shopping mirrors that allow users to try different lipstick and eye shadow shades to reduce the touchpoints and provide customers with a hygienic experience. Customers first start by selecting and trying on different kinds of makeup, then once they decide on the specific model, they can scan the QR code to purchase the product online. This reduces human-to-human contact and the use of product testers to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while allowing users to experience the product in a very hygienic and convenient way.
Porsche is another excellent example of how augmented reality is helping businesses during COIVD-19. With the Porsche augmented reality car app, customers can adhere to social distancing regulations by looking at vehicles without physically going to showrooms. The app enables users to place an augmented reality Porsche vehicle on their driveway and choose the vehicle’s model, color, technology add-ons, rims, and interior design. Once the user is satisfied with their configurations and their design, they can open saved configurations with their Porsche code and share their creation.
Up until now, augmented reality has been experienced primarily through a user’s smartphone. However, in the near future, that is about to change. Companies have started to develop practical looking AR glasses to be mass-marketed. To name a few, Focal by North smart glasses, Snapchat Spectacles, Facebook smart glasses, Bosch smart glasses, and the soon to come Apple Glasses in 2022 are all smart glasses with augmented reality capabilities embedded. If you would like to learn more about the best AR glasses available in 2020 click here.
These new augmented reality glasses may use either LiDAR technology (light detection and ranging technology) or time of flight technology to measure elevation, depth, and distance for accurate augmented reality detection. LiDAR uses laser beams to accurately measure the surroundings by firing rapid pulses of infrared laser beams invisible to the naked eye. The amount of time it takes for the laser beams to be fired and bounce off the object helps smart devices create accurate 3D models. This process allows the LiDAR sensor to distinguish between a face and a hand and gives it the ability to have precise augmented reality object placements. When consumers wear AR glasses, they merge the digital world with the real world and can receive AR notifications from smartphones and computers, access maps, view holographic displays, watch augmented reality TV, and use many other apps.
AR Apple Glasses Coming In 2022
Unlike the Microsoft HoloLens, Apple’s rumored AR glasses design and concept is a significant step in having AR glasses become adopted by the masses. These new glasses will appeal to the general public with their sleek and stylish modern designs. It has been rumored Apple will be releasing AR glasses in 2022 with LiDAR sensors integrated at the top to allow the user to translate QR codes into 3D images in real-time. The Apple AR glasses will feature embedded displays for clear vision, and AR images displayed on the lens will be only visible to the wearer. However, as AR glasses are still in their infancy, Apple AR glasses are rumored to use the iPhone for all data processing.
Personally, the most exciting AR glass concept is the Adobe Aero AR glasses. In my opinion, Adobe Aero AR is perhaps the best example to visualize how people can merge augmented reality and the real world together. The video below showcases how AR glasses could become incorporated into everyday life and their potential impact on marketing. The video shows that users will be able to wear a seemingly normal pair of glasses with intelligent and voice command capabilities. The video demonstrates how users will be able to use AR glasses to find directions to work, view updates on their calendar, and have recommended ads and recipes for dinner. At the end of the day, when the user no longer wants to see all the AR objects, they can turn down the number of augmented reality objects shown in the lens.
Adobe Aero AR concept? vision? pic.twitter.com/JrMng2bgnV
— HCI Research (@HCI_Research) September 22, 2020
AR Glasses and Marketing
As augmented reality becomes more mainstream in the future, it will have significant impacts on marketing. Specifically, AR glasses will impact marketing in many areas including advertising, retail shopping, and packaging.
- AR Glasses & Advertising:
Similar to how Google Maps uses buildings as anchors for directions, AR glasses can use persistent anchors such as buildings to anchor augmented reality content to ad locations. With AR glasses as a norm, users can navigate the streets with augmented reality maps through their lenses while having hyper-personalized augmented reality ads exhibited to them as they walk around the city. For example, during lunch breaks, as users walk out of the office building, recommendations can pop up based on the user’s analytics to recommend a popular lunch spot and create a reservation. As users leave the office, augmented reality glasses can map out the fastest route and recommend coffee shops in the morning or grocery stores at night. In an insightful article, futurist Cathy Hackl discusses what a day in AR glasses might look like.
AR glasses may show AR ads based on the user’s data analytics when users walk past a specific wall or bus stop with ad space anchored. With AR glasses, out-of-home advertisements and billboards may have the capabilities to host thousands of ads on the same billboard. Different people with AR glasses may see personalized ads as they look through their lens. With AR advertisements, non-competing companies may no longer need to bid for ad space but can mutually exist on the same wall or billboard in the augmented world. When users look at AR advertisements that are not in their native language, AR glasses can translate advertisements in real-time to help them understand. Ads may have an international presence and allow companies to target users worldwide in a personalized manner based on their cultural background and native language to produce higher conversion rates and better inventory management. The following video below talks about persistent cloud anchors from Google that connects real-world locations to AR content.
- AR Glasses & Retail Shopping:
In light of the recent pandemic, to adhere to social distancing regulations, many retail stores have adopted AR technologies to help market their products and facilitate their eCommerce platform’s user experience. When it comes to purchasing products online, the biggest issue is that customers cannot try before they buy. With AR technologies adopted, people can visualize how the products look before purchasing anything online. Using AR allows customers to understand what to expect and reduces the product return rates, enhances the customer experience, and creates more personalized content while removing the physical barriers of not having the actual product in hand.
Currently, AR clothing try-on solutions are available through smart mirrors and mobile phones. However, as technology improves, AR glasses will allow users to try different clothing types and customize their outfits while getting recommendations provided in the process. By wearing the AR glasses, users will see virtual avatars and dress the avatars with different products to aid in both in-store and online shopping. Buyers can use object and visual search from the AR glasses to identify the price and materials used without looking at clothing tags. AR glasses may also be able to search for all applicable promotions automatically. By doing so, augmented reality glasses can provide unique personalized shopping experiences by collecting and analyzing data to provide recommendations.
When it comes to AR and grocery shopping, visual search in AR glasses may be able to detect the ingredients in processed food to ensure that users are not allergic or have dietary restrictions towards a product when it comes to grocery shopping. AR glasses can streamline user shopping experiences by highlighting products’ location in their AR grocery list and wait times for checkout lines. Also, by comparing different products to the user’s needs and habits, AR glasses can choose the best option and provide recommendations that offer users the most value.
- AR Glasses & Packaging:
Augmented reality packaging is currently available through manually scanning QR codes with smartphones, but with AR glasses, users can automatically view AR packaging. Advertising may become more interactive through AR glasses and enhance customer engagement. Users can interact with augmented characters, games, and product packaging effects and even prompt them to create user-generated content to be shared across social media. Rather than a stagnant label, AR labels may be able to entice individuals to try and bring products alive.
During Halloween in 2020, Amazon introduced its first interactive AR packaging experience that allowed users to draw a pumpkin on their delivery boxes and bring it to life using their augmented reality app. The app users can then customize the augmented reality pumpkin and create shareable and interactive content with friends and family. In the future, AR glasses may become integrated with smart packaging and NFC (near field communication) tags that may allow individuals to visualize products in their packages and bring AR packaging to life. It may also show augmented indicator lights for packaging with expiration dates or temperature requirements from data transmitted by NFC tags. An excellent example of NFC tags used today is by Johnnie Walker and their Blue Label bottles, which use NFC tags that authenticate the drink and sends signals to smartphones based on whether the bottle is opened or sealed. When the bottle is sealed, it shows product information but offers different cocktail recipes when it is open.
AR Glasses & Ethics:
With the mass use of AR glasses, it may change the way people interact with the world around them and other people. As AR glasses become incorporated into everyday use, it may raise many ethical issues. Some of these issues may include personalized advertisements that target children and excessive AR advertising to users. The big problem with AR glasses in the near future may be privacy and data usage. Since AR glasses may see everything the user sees and track location for anchored advertisements, it may collect a large amount of confidential data. The personal data AR glasses collect, such as location-specific and pattern-based data, could be used in ways that were not intended for collection. In the long-run, data collected may fall into dangerous hands through data breaches and confidential information leakage. Furthermore, as AR advertisements become more widespread, and people start anchoring advertisements in cities, it may beg the question of how we can determine where an individual can anchor an ad and who gets to decide.
The Far Future of AR and AR Glasses:
In the far future, as technology advances and AR glasses are adopted by the masses, AR contact lenses can become the new normal instead of having AR glasses, blurring the lines between reality and augmented reality. As AR technology becomes mainstream, there may be higher personalization levels where brands may no longer need specific packaging designs. Instead, an anchored chip like NFC may allow AR contact lenses to create more personalized packaging for users. Similar to how artificial intelligence (AI) technology can create AI-generated content, AI may be able to develop personalized AR packaging and label designs for users in the future. For example, if the data shows the buyer is of older age or with impaired vision, AR packaging may automatically enlarge the product label fonts. If the user is a young child, then the AR packing may have cartoon characters pop out. If the user is health-conscious, the AR label may show the health benefits of the product. As the augmented reality becomes more widely adopted, the next marketing trend may be to secure a piece of the augmented reality advertising landscape and create new augmented reality products to replace real-world products.
Master of Marketing student
Schulich School of Business